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Durham’s VYB Studio is supporting the community through (virtual) yoga

(03/24/20 5:42pm)

Owner Allie Labate always intended to use VYB Studio as a space that helped and supported the Durham community — she just didn’t anticipate doing it amid a global pandemic. The studio eschews norms by using loud, “bass-bumpin’” music to accompany hot power yoga classes, a practice largely inspired by Labate’s eight-year background in bodybuilding and “hardcore” workouts. “Most yogis, they only want ambient music in their classes, and they don’t like loud music, and they don’t use cuss words … but I’m a little bit nitty-gritty,” Labate said. “My vision for VYB is a place where people can go who may not feel comfortable in a traditional yoga studio. I want the people that want to get down, want to grind — it’s really a place that’s just welcoming to everyone, and a lot of energy, a lot of love.” Alongside the workout, Labate envisions VYB providing a way for people to make friends and “have a family” in Durham, citing the large population of residents who move to the city for professional or educational opportunities, away from their own homes and families. ”I think Durham is really unique. If you think about the art, the music … that’s why I created VYB. I was thinking that I don’t feel like I fit in at all these really nice, cute yoga studios, there’s got to be other people just like me thinking ‘Hey, I want some place that’s going to play some loud, bass, bumping music,’” Labate said. “Like, I’ve got Tupac up on the wall.” The space VYB inhabits was previously home to Community Power Yoga, where Labate formerly offered pop-up classes before purchasing and rebranding the studio. According to instructor Kelly McGee, who completed her yoga teacher training at Community Power Yoga, she was “thrilled” for Labate to take over and wanted in on VYB “from the beginning.” “The vision [Labate] has for this space truly came to life in just a few days and totally expresses her badass practice and self,” McGee wrote in an email. “It is the studio Durham needs [in order] to welcome everybody into the practice in a safe and non-stuffy way.  VYB … blasts the doors wide open to a larger community who may not see themselves as the type of person who practices yoga.” The studio was initially scheduled to open March 23, but due to Wake County restrictions closing all fitness studios through April 30 — which Labate anticipates Durham County implementing soon — opening day is up in the air until further notice. “I spent my life’s savings to get this place ready to open, thinking that I would have an income so I could pay my April rent, but [then] I had to make the responsible decision of waiting, which was hard,” Labate said. “But it’s the right thing to do. Everyone was trying to stay open as long as they could, and then I think they finally realized this thing is serious and we need to think about what’s the right thing to do for the general public.” Despite being, according to Labate, “a brand-new studio that isn’t even really a business yet,” VYB’s team is seeking out ways to balance their needs as well as supporting other community members impacted by shutdowns.   “I feel like it’s going to take people in Durham, all of us as a community, to work together in order to get this thing to go away sooner rather than later,” Labate said. “I’m friends with a lot of other small business owners in Durham, and we’ve all been texting back and forth, trying to figure out a way that we can help each other and also help our community, because even though we’re all socially distant, there’s this sense of connectedness, togetherness now.” In light of the shifting conditions, tourist information center Discover Durham is keeping a running list of community relief efforts, including a spreadsheet of local businesses and ways to support them. For VYB, that entails attending virtual classes taught by Labate and McGee and purchasing gift cards, memberships and merchandise — a portion of proceeds from which will go to local charities.    “The best thing to do is put your money into businesses you value and care about and help spread the word about all businesses are doing in this time to support the community and stay afloat,” McGee wrote. At this point, the VYB team is taking things day-by-day. In addition to their virtual class offerings, the studio initiated a seven-day “NamaSTAY AT HOME” yoga challenge to promote safe social distancing practices, offering participants a chance to win a free VYB shirt and sticker for posting photos of themselves practicing yoga at home. “You can’t really plan for anything right now. [It’s] actually a really good exercise in mindfulness, because you literally cannot think about what’s going to happen next week or the week after,” Labate said. “You really have to live in the moment, which is ultimately what yoga is all about.” 

Hobby hunting: A few in review

(03/25/20 4:00am)

This is not the senior spring anyone imagined or hoped for. Everything has changed so quickly, and continues to change every day. What I’m fixating on most at the moment is how much time I have now. Everything that takes up the greatest part of my regular schedule at Duke has disappeared. Meals are fifteen minutes instead of hours spent lazily chatting with friends. My walk to class is replaced with grabbing my laptop from my desk and getting back in bed. The hours I usually spend in meetings, extracurriculars and study groups are just... gone. 

An up-to-date FAQ guide about life after Duke closed due to coronavirus

(03/24/20 7:46am)

It seems a long time ago when Duke announced its plans for possible student self-quarantining after spring break. The University has since changed many of its policies due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus, but the initial news generated more questions than it answered. The Chronicle compiled the questions that you asked and addressed them to the best of our ability below. 

How to be productive under quarantine

(03/24/20 4:00am)

My first day of online classes feels immensely unproductive. I sit through my lectures taking notes as usual, taking breaks to entertain my dog and to cook myself lunch. My email notifications of piazza are flooded with fellow students asking about course updates and grading policy. My to-do list no longer concerns my research or extracurriculars, but is full of stressful changes and responses to cancellations. I feel a lack of purpose and overall motivation, the exact opposite of the whirlwind of engagement I feel on campus.

As online classes begin, learn more about the team helping faculty keep teaching

(03/22/20 11:47pm)

As the spread of COVID-19 led Duke to move all undergraduate, graduate and professional classes to online or remote learning until further notice, faculty were charged with a sudden shift to remote or virtual teaching. Duke Learning Innovation’s team stepped in to help.

Pass me a Corona: How to cure yourself

(03/23/20 4:00am)

Finally, it has come—Monday Monday’s take on the hot new disease. As The Chronicle’s most trusted expert reporter, I’ve been assigned to cover the only topic in the news more discussed than my articles. The disease is known to some as the senior fever, to racists as the "China virus," to a few as the Corona-with-lime-virus. This disease has had catastrophic effects—like causing the senile exile, the Zoom boom, the cessation of graduation and the caper of toilet paper.